A 15-Day Whirlwind Tour of Bucket List Trails in Colorado (and one in Utah!)
Photos and words by Jeff Frane
Greetings party people,
It’s me, Jeffrey G. Frane and I’d like to share some stories and photos from a recent 15-day whirlwind tour of bucket list trails in the Colorado mountains. (and one in Utah!) For two weeks we moved non-stop taking in 3,300 miles of van life, the finest rest stops and porta-johns the West has to offer, mountain peaks, mechanical mishaps, world-class campsites, bug bites, crashes, new friends, and countless ribbons of singletrack. The itinerary was exhausting and ridiculous, but as traveling always tends to be, it was also the best.
It all started last Spring (2016) when my partner Chelsea won the fatbike category at the Lutsen 99’er deep in the Northwoods and North Shore of Minnesota, which qualified her for the famed Leadville 100 Trail Race. For those uninitiated, the Leadville 100 is an absolutely ludicrous endeavor that’s been going on since 1983 and takes in 12,000 feet of climbing in 100 miles at elevations between 10,000 and 12,000 feet. Owing to the seriousness and financial cost of the undertaking, she decided to take a full year to prepare her body and mind.
For those of us from the low-lands just sleeping is challenging at that altitude, nevermind throwing down what would be a monster day on a bicycle at any elevation. To add to the challenge, she had never before been to the high mountains or spent any time at elevation, and thus had no idea how her body would react. Because of the race altitude, we wanted to spend as much time in the mountains as possible prior to the event, and since she had never been to Colorado before, we agreed that rather than choosing one destination, we’d simply do everything!
On a Sunday we loaded up the van, left our home in Minneapolis and cannonballed toward the Front Range, spending a night in Denver before hitting up the legendary Monarch Crest in Salida, 401 Trail in Crested Butte, the race in Leadville, 18 Road and Horsethief in Fruita, and finally the whole Enchilada in Moab, Utah. This was our first extended road trip as a couple and after a hard Summer of being separated, traveling for work and bike racing, it was very special to reconnect and share her first time in the mountains.
Here’s to the great tradition of Summer Road trips!
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